Today, while coming back home from central London to the Eastern part of London where I live, I sat next to a young, Asian girl who was wearing a wide-brimmed hat. The hat, which was black, quite wide-brimmed and which had a glossy, black band running around its centre, covered most of her face. The only part of her face which was visible was her chin and her lips.
My first impression on seeing the hat was to be reminded, irresistibly, of a witch’s hat, which is both black and wide-brimmed. However, after this first impression, the hat became immensely attractive to me, because it conveyed such a sense of mystery and enigma about the person that was wearing it. Just like in Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children, when the doctor looks at the parts of the body of a patient through holes in cloth and falls in love with her ‘in pieces’, so I was drawn to begin to desire the person behind the hat, precisely because I could only see a part of her. The hat which covered her face was luring me into a fantasy of what lay beneath.
And as this tantalising mystery grew in strength – to uncover what was covered – I wondered to myself how many people were lured by the mysterious hat. Was it just me that found the half-hidden face so intriguing? I cast my mind back to an experience which I have had myself when I wear my peaked hat. Interestingly enough, I find that more women look at me when I am wearing this hat. Is it simply human nature to look to find that which seems hidden? Does a face become more interesting when it evades sight?